By DANIEL SUDDEATH
NEW ALBANY —
Though a decision to allow an independent to occupy the seat was ratified in January, Republican New Albany City Councilman Kevin Zurschmiede remains on the Horseshoe Foundation of Floyd County board.
Council President Pat McLaughlin tabbed Democrat John Gonder and independent Scott Blair from the body to serve on the Horseshoe Board, but only Gonder was seated by the organization.
Horseshoe Board President Mark Seabrook, who is the Floyd County Commissioners’ representative on the body, confirmed again Monday that the organization’s bylaws stipulate the council must select one member from the two major political parties to serve.
The Democratic and Republican Parties are the major parties alluded to in the bylaws, Seabrook said.
“It has to be one of each unless there is not a Republican, then it will be two Democrats,” Seabrook said. “If they want to argue about that, they can argue all they want. We’re following the bylaws and that’s the way it is.”
There was “some speculation as to whether they had gotten notification” of the council appointments to the board, so an official letter was recently sent to the Horseshoe Foundation to confirm Blair and Gonder were selected, McLaughlin said Monday.
He described the Horseshoe Foundation’s stipulation of one Republican and one Democrat as “perplexing” and again affirmed his desire to see the body’s bylaws change.
Seabrook said the Horseshoe Foundation had its policy reviewed by legal counsel and that it will stand. He added the Indiana Attorney General’s office was contacted and they confirmed independent is not an official party.
When asked if a Libertarian could serve on the board, Seabrook said it would have to be reviewed since it’s not one of the two major parties.
Zurschmiede is the lone Republican on the council, and though he was not reappointed to the board this year, has continued to attend Horseshoe meetings and vote on organization matters.
After learning that Zurschmiede had attended meetings after McLaughlin’s choices were announced, Councilman Dan Coffey called in January for a vote to reaffirm Blair and Gonder as the choices.
A message left for Zurschmiede seeking comment hadn’t been returned as of press time Monday.
Gonder said the Horseshoe Foundation has handled the matter poorly, and added he’s passed that message along to organization officials.
“I’m not going to knock another council member, but I think the board made a mistake in not listening to the wishes of the council,” Gonder said when asked if Zurschmiede should attend the meetings.
“I recognize that independent is not a party, but I don’t think it was anticipated when those bylaws were written that an independent would be elected.”
Among its tasks, the Horseshoe Board reviews and votes on funding requests for projects and initiatives which are footed through riverboat money.
Gonder said some issues the board deals with are political in nature, but that not every matter is. He added he wouldn’t support appointing two Democrats to the board from the council, as he believes there should be balance on the body.
“It could easily be avoided or rectified by just saying that no one political party will have a monopoly of seats,” Gonder said.